GOAL 1: Engage parents and children to work together to achieve success in education.

INDICATOR: Elementary School Truancy Rate

Finding a reliable indicator for parent engagement in their children’s education can be challenging. However, one way parents can have a significant impact on their children’s success is to reinforce the importance of education by ensuring good attendance habits. Studies have shown that students who are chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the school year due to excused or unexcused absences, are at risk academically, particularly in the early grades. These absences result in loss of instructional time, which translates into weaker reading skills. Attendance habits begin at home. Schools also play a role; student attendance is better in schools where parents feel welcomed and engaged. 1

Figure 3-1. Elementary Truancy, NM2

GOAL 2: Prepare our youngest children for school success.

INDICATOR: Pre-Kindergarten Enrollment

Numerous studies demonstrate that children who attend quality early care and education programs show persistent gains on achievement tests and are less likely to repeat a grade in school or require special education.  These children are also more likely to graduate from high school and avoid criminal activity.3 One way to measure progress with young children is to track the number enrolled in state-funded pre-k programs.  As the following chart illustrates, New Mexico has made strong progress in the last decade, approaching the national average. (Note: Roughly 40 percent of all three and four-year-olds in the state are enrolled in some form of preschool, including child care, Head Start and New Mexico PreK.4

Figure 3-2. Pre-K Enrollment, NM and US5

INDICATOR: Reading Proficiency

Children who read well are more likely to perform well in other subjects, such as math and science.  Strong reading skills also predict the likelihood of graduating from high school and attending college, as well as secure employment and better wage earnings.6 The percent of fourth grade and eighth grade students in New Mexico who are proficient readers has remained about the same over the last decade.

Figure 3-3. Reading Proficiency, 4th Grade, NM and US7
Figure 3-4. Reading Proficiency, 8th Grade, NM and US8

INDICATOR: Math Proficiency

Competence in mathematics is the strongest predictor of long-term academic success.9 It is also essential in an increasingly technology-based world and workplace.  Students with strong math skills are more likely to attend and complete college. Math proficiency is also related to higher levels of employability and influences higher levels of earnings.10 New Mexico made progress in student math scores in the last decade, but proficiency dipped in very recent years.

Figure 3-5. Math Proficiency, 4th Grade, NM and US11
Figure 3-6. Math Proficiency, 8th Grade, NM and US12

GOAL 3: Ensure K-12 students thrive academically, with no differences in achievement based on race or ethnicity.

INDICATOR: Academic Proficiency by Race/Ethnicity

Achievement gaps matter, particularly when the educational disparities affect such large segments of the population. The state's schools consistently see double-digit gaps in academic proficiency. The following chart provides one example, fourth grade math. As of 2013, similar gaps exist in fourth grade reading (31 percentage point gap between highest and lowest achieving groups), eighth grade reading (30 percentage point gap), and eighth grade math (29 percentage point gap).  

Figure 3-7. Math Proficiency, 4th Grade, Race/Ethnicity NM and US13

INDICATOR: High School Graduation Rate

High school  graduation usually leads to higher earnings for individuals, and greater productivity and economic growth for their communities.    The median earnings of individuals with a high school diploma, even with no additional education, are roughly 40 percent higher than earnings of those who do not finish school.14

As the following two charts show, New Mexico’s overall high school graduation rate has climbed over the last decade, reaching 69 percent in 2014. We still fall short of the national average of 81 percent. New Mexico’s graduation rates were the lowest of all neighboring states, where 75 to 88 percent of students graduate.15 Further, the gap between ethnic groups is not closing.

Figure 3-8. HS Graduation Rate, Four Corners States and US16
Figure 3-9. HS Graduation Rate, NM17

GOAL 4: Graduate college students with the skills to compete and be successful in demanding work environments.

INDICATOR: College Graduation Rate

In recent decades, the United States steadily transitioned from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with an Associate's degree are twice as likely to have a job as those with only a high school diploma. People with a Bachelor’s degree are three times more likely to be employed. The employment rate for persons with Master’s, professional and doctoral degrees is the highest, at 96–98 percent.18

The following chart shows that New Mexico sits well behind our neighbors in college graduate rates, but none of the Four Corners states are experiencing steady increases. 

Figure 3-10. HE Graduation Rate, Four Corners States and US19


The fastest growing occupations in the U.S. require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, with health-related fields topping the list.20 In New Mexico, significant attention was devoted in recent years to increasing the number of college graduates with STEM degrees. The following chart illustrates steady progress; however, concerns exists that the number of retiring STEM professionals outpaces the number of new graduates. 

Figure 3-11. STEM Graduates, NM21

INDICATOR: Educational Attainment

 Currently, New Mexico has a less-educated populace than the surrounding states and the nation.22 The educational attainment of the labor force is one of the most important factors in the continuing economic development of the state. The number of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher is projected to grow faster than jobs requiring a high school degree or less.23 Higher rates of high school and college graduation for the current generation benefits the next generation as well. The level of education attained by parents improves their children's lives. Educational attainment has been shown to be a key predictor of good health outcomes and lower mortality rates, lower teen pregnancy rates, fewer divorces, and lower crime rates.24

Figure 3-12. Educational Attainment, Four Corners States and US25

What's been done?

A range of education reform efforts have been undertaken in past years, some of which follow. 

Year Action


Streamline Teacher Administrative Licensure bill passed, requiring the provision of an administrator license to applicants who meet specific educational standards. Higher Education common course naming/numbering bill passed.
2014 Pre-Kindergarten program piloted to three year olds. K-12 Breakfast After The Bell  bill passed, requiring all school districts and charter schools with 85 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch to provide breakfast after the start of school. Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program modified, requiring students at four-year institutions to have a 2.5 GPA in their first term in order to qualify for the program.
2013 Home Visiting Accountability Act  passed, establishing statewide home visiting services using a standards-based program. Implementation began for the FOCUS tiered quality rating system for early childhood education programs. School Excused Absences for Pregnancy bill passed, requiring districts and charter schools to provide at least 10 days of excused absence for pregnant or parenting students.
2012 Tribal College Dual Credit Programs passed, providing funds to support high school students taking dual credit courses at tribal colleges. 
2011 Early Childhood Care and Education Act  passed, creating a foundation for an integrated learning system. New Mexico Early Learning Advisory Council established. New Mexico Common Core State standards adopted, requiring students to pass accountability assessments from third through eleventh grades. A-F school grading system implemented. Higher Education performance-based funding formula implemented, rewarding institutions for improving performance in granting certificates and degrees. 
2010 P-20 Education Data System  bill passed. Hispanic Education Act bill passed. New Mexico School Leadership Institute established.
2009 High school graduation requirements modified to include at least one credit from an honors, advance placement, dual credit or distance learning class. Freshman Year Outcomes Report required. Student ID numbers  required on high school transcripts. School Athletics Equity Act  passed.
2008 College and Workplace Readiness Assessments  enacted.
2007-09 High school redesign  bills passed. Principal salary increases mandated.
2007 Dual credit  and cyber-academy  bills passed, enabling high school students to earn high school and college credit at the same time on selected courses.
2005 Pre-Kindergarten Act  passed, creating a voluntary state-funded preschool system. Legislation also passed ensuring public, post-secondary schools could not deny admission or in-state tuition to students on the basis of immigration status. The Commission on Higher Education became the Higher Education Department,  a cabinet-level agency. The Funding Formula  Study Task Force established to examine whether the constitutional requirement that “A uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education of, and open to, all the children of school age in the state shall be established and maintained” was being met.
2004-08 Level I, II, III teacher salary increases finalized over a five-year roll out.
2004 T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Program funded so that child care teachers could access the professional development system. New Funding Formula, using an enrollment band, adopted.
2003 Kindergarten Plus established. No Child Left Behind enacted. Public School Reforms Act passed, establishing the three-tiered   teacher licensure  system, the assessment/accountability system for superintendents and principals, and the Office of Education Accountability. The Indian Education Act passed. Two constitutional  amendments were created, increasing funding from the Permanent Fund to support education reform, establishing the Public Education Department as a cabinet-level agency, and replacing the NM Board of Education with the Public Education Commission. New Mexico Children’s Cabinet was established, creating collaborations across departments to maximize resources and track the well‐being of children and youth. 
2001 NM Board of Education adopted policy on teacher quality. Beginning Teacher Mentoring  passed.
2000 Full Day Kindergarten Program  established and phased in over five years. Alternative Licensure Programs approved.
1999 Teacher Education Accountability Council established. Charter Schools Act passed. 
1998-2002 Lawsuit filed by Zuni , Gallup-McKinley and Grants School District, influencing the creation of Public School Capital Outlay  Task Force and Public School Capital Outlay Council to oversee a new statewide capital outlay system based on adequacy standards to ensure school buildings and other facilities are equitably funded in all school districts.
1996 Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program established.  

1Attendance Works. (2014). Attendance in the Early Grades: Why it Matters for Reading .

2NM Public Education Department. (n.d.). School Fact Sheets: Habitually Truant School Report .

3Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. (2003). Educational Leadership. Preschool: The Most Important Grade, 60 (7), pg. 54-57. 

4Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT. (n.d.). American Community Survey, Table S1401.

5National Institute for Early Education Research. (2014). The State of Preschool 2003-2013.

6Child Trends Data Bank. (2014). Reading Proficiency.

7National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). National Assessment of Educational Progress: Fourth Grade Reading Proficiency.

8National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). National Assessment of Educational Progress: Eighth Grade Reading Proficiency .

9Duncan et al. (2007.) Developmental Psychology.

10Child Trends Data Bank. (2014). Mathematics Proficiency.

11National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). National Assessment of Educational Progress: Fourth Grade Math Proficiency . Data updated 11.4.15

12National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). National Assessment of Educational Progress: Eighth Grade Math Proficiency . Data updated 11.4.15

13National Center for Education Statistics. (n.d.). National Assessment of Educational Progress: Math Proficiency by Race/Ethnicity.

14Promising Practices Network. (n.d.). Promising Practices for Promoting High School Graduation.

15NM Department of Workforce Solutions. (2015). A Report Highlighting New Mexico’s Current and Future Workforce.

16Governing: States and Localities. (n.d.). High School Graduation Rates by State.

17NM Public Education Department. (n.d.). School Fact Sheets: High School Graduates by Ethnicity and Gender.

18Gulbrandsen, C. (2011). Relationship Between Unemployment and College Completion.

19The Chronicle of Higher Education. (n.d.). College Completion . U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics(n.d.). Digest of Education Statistics .

20Georgetown University. (2013). Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020.

21NM Higher Education Department. (n.d.). NMHED Data Reports.

22NM Department of Workforce Solutions. (2015). New Mexico 2015 State of the Workforce Report: A Report Highlighting New Mexico’s Current and Future Workforce, pg. 36.

23NM Department of Workforce Solutions. (2015). New Mexico 2015 State of the Workforce Report: A Report Highlighting New Mexico’s Current and Future Workforce, pg. 39.

24Promising Practices Network. (n.d.). Promising Practices for Promoting High School Graduation.

25U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). American Factfinder: Educational Attainment.

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